[Attitudes toward online HIV/sexually-transmitted infection prevention programs and Internet user profiles among men who have sex with men.]

Published: October 31, 2011


To describe the attitudes of men who have sex with men (MSM) toward online HIV/sexually-transmitted infection (STI) prevention programs and to identify and characterize user profiles with regard to their attitudes toward online prevention programs.

A survey in gay venues or via the internet was completed by 2,044 participants from Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastián (Spain). The survey explored socio-demographic variables, sexual behavior and other risk behaviors associated with HIV infection, as well as attitudes toward online prevention programs. The statistical analysis included factor analysis and non-hierarchical cluster analysis.

Most MSM had positive attitudes towards online HIV/STI prevention programs. Factor analysis revealed two factors: online prevention aimed at interaction and online prevention aimed at information. Based on these factors, three user profiles were identified: users oriented toward informative and interactive online prevention (53.5%), users oriented toward interactive online prevention (25.9%) and users were not oriented toward online prevention (20.7%). On characterizing these profiles, we observed a significant presence of men who were not interested in online prevention among those with a lower educational level, bisexual men and HIV-positive men. Conversely, those most receptive to online prevention were men self-identified as gay, those with a bachelors degree, those who had been tested for HIV and those who were HIV-negative.

The internet can facilitate sexual health promotion among MSM. Characterization of user profiles offers the possibility of segmenting prevention programs and of combining online and offline strategies.

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